MP welcomes broadband funding boost for West Sussex
Arundel & South Downs MP Nick Herbert has welcomed the announcement of £6.26 million in Government funding to improve the broadband network in West Sussex.
The funding is intended to enable a programme to deliver broadband to all households, with nine out of ten homes able to have superfast connection, within four years.
The funding allocations for each local authority, part of a £363 million national programme to improve the broadband network in England and Scotland, were announced earlier this week by Culture Secretary Jeremy Hunt MP.
Mr Hunt was the keynote speaker at a broadband summit organised by Nick Herbert and West Sussex County Council in May.
The County Council will use the grant to improve connection speeds in the parts of the County that it would not otherwise be commercially practical to reach.
The Council can now invite tenders to match their own contribution and fulfil the Government's promise to have 100 per cent broadband coverage, and 90 per cent superfast coverage, by 2015.
Despite the County's close proximity to London, there are many parts of rural West Sussex where a reliable broadband connection is unavailable. The County has three of the four non-broadband telephone exchanges in England - East Marden, Plaistow and Sutton.
Following the successful broadband summit in May, the County Council pledged to set up an online forum to allow interested members of the public to discuss the difficulties in their area and engage with the Council in suggesting solutions.
Responding to the Government's announcement, Nick Herbert said: "I am delighted that West Sussex has been given this funding to improve the broadband network.
"Parts of the County cannot get broadband at all, let alone superfast. It is especially damaging for rural businesses. We need to be better connected to help create jobs in the future and access new services.
"I look forward to seeing the County Council's plans to use this money so that the whole County has broadband access, and nine out of ten homes have superfast connection, to meet the Government's target of 2015.
"I also welcome the County Council's commitment to set up an online forum so that local people can be kept in touch with developments and rural communities in particular can be involved in the planning of the network.
"It is really encourgaing to think that West Sussex will no longer be in the slow lane, with broadband for every household and superfast speeds for most in just four years' time."
Notes to Editors
1. The Government's announcement can be read here: http://www.culture.gov.uk/news/news_stories/8389.aspx
2. A report of the West Sussex: Better Connected summit organised by Nick Herbert can be read here: http://www.nickherbert.com/news.php/350/broadband-summit-paves-way-to-superfast-future (item 3 at the bottom of the article)